Nov 10 2013

Lowell police conducting internal investigation after woman dies in police custody

Dr. Q

WCVB reports:

Team 5 Investigates is exposing a local police department that failed to get a young woman who died in its custody medical care.

The troubling events leading up to her death were caught on surveillance cameras. Team 5 Investigates’ Kathy Curran obtained the exclusive video showing what went wrong.

Thirty-one year old Alyssa Brame’s last hours of life were spent at the Lowell police department after she was picked up for soliciting sex last January.

Team 5 Investigates exclusively obtained surveillance video of the night in question that shows the young mother highly intoxicated and unable to stand and walk on her own.

At first, police put her on the floor next to a stairwell where at one point as many as six people stood around assessing her condition. Then Brame was carried to the booking room where she was placed on the floor and quickly searched.

Brame was breathing, but not moving, so she was placed in a cell, unconscious, and left alone for more than an hour, in violation of department policies which state “at no time will an unconscious prisoner be placed into a cell,” and another policy that requires prisoners to be visually checked every 30 minutes.

Her mother, Alice Swiridowsky-Muckle, is outraged. “You know, the motto for the police department is ‘protect and serve’ and in no way did they protect or serve her,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle. “It’s negligence. They were negligent that night because they did nothing,” she said.

The video shows when two civilian workers finally checked on Brame, her arm and face were blue and she had no pulse.

Team 5 Investigates has learned neither one of them had current training in CPR. One left to alert a commanding officer, then several officers went back to the cell to try and resuscitate Brame. However, it took fourteen minutes before anyone called for medical help.

“It’s remarkable that there were so many officers who saw the state Alyssa was in and none of them said, ‘let’s call 911,'” said Howard Friedman, an attorney for the family.

Records show when EMTS finally arrived, they were told the patient was dead and had been gone for a long time.

“She died like a caged animal,” said Swiridowsky-Muckle.

Captain Kelly Richardson, a spokesman for the Lowell police department declined Team 5 Investigates request for an interview because he said the department is conducting an internal investigation.

Read the rest of this article and see the video here.

Update (11/14/2013): The Lowell Sun obtained a copy the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s report on Brame’s death. The district attorney found several policy violations, but concluded that no criminal charges against the police officers were warranted.


Jun 19 2013

New Bedford officers get four day suspensions for role in man’s death

Dr. Q

The Standard-Times reports that five police officers have received four day suspensions for failing to get medical attention in a timely manner for a man who was dying of a drug overdose.

Five police officers on duty when a man died in their custody each received a four-day suspension without pay, despite disciplinary recommendations that ranged from six months’ suspension without pay to termination.

The settlement reached between the city, the officers and the police union in August 2012 concerns the early morning hours of July 22, 2010, when Erik Aguilar, 42, overdosed while handcuffed and officers did not attempt to provide medical care until nine minutes after he stopped moving, according to investigations of the incident.

A March 2011 police review found that the officers had neglected their duties and failed to perform according to department rules and regulations. The review called the incident “an embarrassing disgrace to the New Bedford Police Department and a case of absolute negligence on the part of the … police officers on scene.”

Commenting on the suspensions, Police Chief David Provencher said Friday, “Am I completely satisfied? No, but I also understand that it was important to get the disciplinary action sustained and I think to that end, it’s an outcome that’s effective.”

The settlement, which also requires the officers to undergo three days of unspecified training, was based on the city’s calculation that a state arbitrator would have given the officers an even lighter punishment, Mayor Jon Mitchell said.

“The arbitrators are notoriously lenient and that’s a problem in my view, but that’s the system we operate in and I have to play by those rules,” Mitchell said.

While the officers all got off with slaps on the wrist, the taxpayers of New Beford will probably have to fork over some money to pay for what these officers did since they are currently being sued by Aguilar’s family.